Advancing Selflessness

Prayer

For the past few months, my spiritual practice has been uneven and degenerate. That’s not to say that I wasn’t meditating daily and consistently striving to purify my mind – but rather that I seemed to lack the energy and strength to do so as deeply and effectively as I had done before.

The reason for this was largely seasonal. In Spring and Summer, Yang – the quality of light, strength, and independence – is ascending and dominant. In Winter, this energy recedes into the Earth, and Yin takes over – the quality of darkness, weakness, flexibility, receptivity, and dependence becomes ascendant.

This rise in Yin scattered my wholeness, and made me increasingly feel like I could not rely solely on my own strength. This was very far removed from how I had felt during the summer, when I felt completely enmeshed with the Tao, and capable of doing anything. Recently, this degeneration reached its nadir, as Yin culminated in a feeling a complete helplessness.

But this reversal was teaching me an important lesson. While I had made tremendous spiritual advancement during the summer, my obsession with self-strengthening had made me insular, selfish, and disinterested in others – three qualities that can undercut even the greatest of attainments.

So, once I reached my nadir of weakness and helplessness, I really only had one choice – to reach out, and ask the divine to help me, through prayers and mantras, and through the fellowship of my fellow creatures.I also realized, in my suffering, that while peace is my basic state of being, for most, suffering is still their default mode of consciousness. I knew I was well-equipped to overcome mine, and would shortly do so; but, for many, the process would be much longer, perhaps necessitating multiple rebirths and hardships.

This realization made me feel tremendous compassion for my fellow beings. So, instead of focusing on my own suffering, I turned my attention to others, and began to pray and meditate for their happiness, inner peace, health, wholeness, and freedom from suffering.

Once I shifted my attention from my own suffering to the suffering of others, miraculously, my own suffering began to wane. Because I was projecting my consciousness beyond my self, it enabled me to free myself from self-centredness, which is ultimately the source of all suffering.

It is for its ability to foster selflessness that the power of prayer for others has so long been extolled by every religion. Enlightenment is freedom from the self. It is good to be independent and to recognize one’s strength; but unless you can also be interdependent, and be humble enough to recognize that all of your own strength ultimately comes from the Tao or the Divine, then you will only be half a person. Think about others. Pray for others. Understand their plight, and wish for them all the happiness and joy you would wish for yourself. When you are able to marry self-attainment with the attainment of selflessness, then you will have covered all the bases, and become truly whole. Many of you know this far better than myself. But, still, I come to you in humility, hoping to help those, like myself, who have forgotten.

 

The Sickness of Not Being Yourself (Or the Sickness of Not Being)

 

I have a lovely book called Kuan Yin: Myths and Prophecies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, which contains 100 divinatory poems, each one beautifully crafted, and attributed to the great goddess herself.

Over the last few weeks, whenever I’ve opened this book at random, searching for inspiration and insight, I have been repeatedly led to the poem Be Yourself (Says the Poet), which runs thus:

Go and live in a copper mine underground with the birds!

Be in harmony with yourself and all the other paths –

Everyone goes their own way and does the best they can,

And no one can cover the whole of Heaven and Earth’s expanse.

We are all accustomed to hearing friends, relatives, and strangers proffer the advice just to ‘be ourselves’. Yet, do we really understand what this means? How often are we actually fully and truly ourselves on a daily basis?

The fact is, many of us have been so bred to believe that being a fully liberated and realized version of our self is impossible, and not something that society would ever tolerate or allow. We’ve become so detached from our natural core, the realization of our own personal Tao or nature, that what has been left of ourselves has been so contorted, wrought, and dismembered into such a mangled shape, that it’s no wonder that so many people – especially the young – live lives in a state of near permanent anxiety and discomfort, unable to find peace or relief even for a moment, without the aid of artificial chemicals and other synthetic stimulants. I have many friends and people whom I love who are essentially functioning drug addicts, completely dependent on either legal pharmaceuticals or narcotics, simply because they know no other way of being themselves. To see them, or anybody, suffer in this way is grievously upsetting for me, and I would give anything to enable everyone to become the people they truly and beautifully are on the inside.

The worst part about this dissociation from our true selves is that it occurs to such an extent, that, even when we are alone, we often find that we are unable to be at ease, or really ‘let go’, all those rigid notions of societal and interpersonal expectations and pressures still holding us all in a vice. And perhaps that ought to be the true definition of a’ vice’ – not a byword for a sinful act; but, a word that reflects any practice, physical, psychological, or spiritual, that goes against your own self, or the self of others, in a way that is harmful and dangerous. The sin of ‘not being yourself.’ And, when you’re not being yourself, it is all the harder for you to hear your Supremely Silent Divine Self, eternally calling for you to rejoin yourself with it in love.

I know I was guilty of this sin for a long time. I lost faith in myself, and believed that any part of me that was ‘truly me’ would be hated and despised by everyone. The only way to be truly liked, I thought, was to conceal myself in an endless series of disguises that would be more palatable to those around me, and make the act of being in my company much less opprobrious and distasteful.

But a state like this cannot sustain itself for long, for it has sought to cut off its own roots. Nature will always find a way to reassert itself. As Lao Tzu said ‘What goes against The Way does not last’. If we ignore this pressure, this immense surge of change, then we are liable to become ill, which is our body’s way of telling us that we are being dishonest, and going against nature. More than any bacteria, or insanely concocted psychological cause, I would posit that a huge stinking majority of the illnesses of the world, are caused by being inauthentic, and denying our nature, and denying our dreams. The only cure is being ourselves, being divine, being true, being love, being free – the antidote to all suffering.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of people – (not including Buddhas, spirits, planets, and the Tao, whom are all countless) – who I must express my eternal gratitude to for giving me the courage to be myself again, better than ever before – and I’m just getting warmed up!

In return, I want to help all of you do the same. Consider me your servant, your personal mascot or cheerleader, always rooting for you to be ‘you’. I want you all to be happy and share yourselves and your happiness with everyone.

I love you all and want the best for all of you.

May we all be as one again with the Tao.

Voting for the Cosmos

 

Britain is abuzz and asizzle with voting fervour pending the general elections tomorrow. And yet I can proudly say I will be amongst the non-voters. As far as I’m concerned, politics is nothing but a psychotic feedback loop, a typhoon of disengagement – its dialogue a sort of demented meta-commentary that seeks to disguise and drown-out the exploitation, greed, corruption, degradation and genocidal practices that it covertly encourages and allows. I’d be half tempted to use my ballot paper as a fitting toilet paper replacement, if I weren’t afraid that the vote counters might mistake one of my remaining dingleberries as a vote of consent, or leave me with some unspeakable colon disease simply through association with one of the names printed on it.

But this article isn’t about politics. I’m not here to foment a political debate or encourage you to not vote either – I would consider both attempts futile and tedious. This is about the world and your profound participation in it.

Just because I am not voting for a politician tomorrow, it doesn’t mean that I’m not voting. Quite the opposite. I’m positively overflowing with votes!

If you’re going to vote for anyone, vote for yourself. Vote for the world. Vote for the cosmos. Vote for the Tao. Vote for the Buddha Nature alive and raging peacefully inside us all.

If you want to change the world, voting for a mendacious suit filled with meaningless statements is not going to accomplish anything. Change starts with you. If you want to nurture the world, and envision a better future, than you must bring about that future by voting for it through your thoughts, your words, your actions, and your intentions. These are the quantum building blocks that sculpt the world anew – not ballot paper. Ticking a box is physical process. But thinking, speaking, and acting the world you want into being are all metaphysical processes. They go straight to the psychic and karmic centres of the universe and change it on that core epicentral level.

So think. Imagine the world in your mind as you would like it to be. Write it down or do a drawing of your perfect world. Make statements and affirmations about your commitment to making the world a better place. Do so regularly. Let it become your prayer, your mantra, your guiding, screaming, never silent intention. But, most of all, start taking action. Be good to people. Take as much responsibility over the improvement of everything with which you participate as you are able. Don’t turn to world leaders for the resolution to your problems. Turn to yourself. Only you can make the world a better place.